Jeremy Clarkson is in trouble again.
This time it isn’t casual racism. Or implying that all lorry drivers are murderers. Or damaging property. Or insulting anyone. Or committing the fashion disaster that is a 50+ year old man in jacket and jeans.
This time it’s about a sandwich.
Apparently, he arrived at a hotel at 10 pm from a day spent filming and he needed something to eat. The hotel staff said “very sorry, but the chef has gone home” and offered him a bar snack or a cold cheese platter. He insisted he wanted a hot meal. Cue handbags at dusk. Some pushing and shoving. At some point he may or may not have punched a producer.
The BBC had already given him a final warning. They can’t really give him a final final warning. A final “and this time we really mean it” warning.
That would be like one of those “Best Rock and Roll Album in the World Ever” albums. It’s a great title until you want to produce a sequel. You can’t just call it “the Best Rock and Roll Album in the world ever … ahem … 2.”
Except maybe you can …
The BBC will have to do what it can to keep Clarkson whilst not appearing too hypocritical about a “final warning II”. Meanwhile the politicians weigh in trying to outdo each other with their support for JC, an online petition for him to be reinstated is climbing towards a million signatures and it takes the untimely passing of Terry Pratchett to put the whole silly mess into context.
But just what is the Clarkson effect?
The answer I think is the cleavage switch. He either doesn’t have one or he has learned to ignore it.
What is the cleavage switch? I am glad you asked, because it gives me a chance to post this picture…
Heterosexual men notice cleavages. Most of us can’t help it. It’s something Darwinian. Primeval. Biological. It’s an eye magnet. I’m sorry, but it just is.
If that comes across as sexist, then allow me to redress the balance …
That last one is for my beloved wife, by the way.
The thing about cleavages is that sooner or later most men install a mental cleavage switch. This switch means I really want to look, but I am not going to. It’s that second helping of cheesecake or just one more round of drinks. Tempting, but I had better not.
In other words …
Clarkson doesn’t work that way. His mind says … it’s tempting. I shouldn’t do it. And then he does it. He is a living breathing 6 foot 5 exemplar of WTH – what the heck.
And yes there is a fruitier version of WTH, but I won’t go there. That’s my cleavage switch kicking in. My Mum might read this blog. And not just for the half undressed man.
That’s the appeal of Clarkson. He takes all the things that we are thinking, but won’t say … and then he says them. He shows us what life would be like without a cleavage switch.
You could do whatever you wanted. Eat as much as you like without getting fat. Insult whoever you wanted. Indulge your childhood fantasies of driving fast cars. Stare at cleavages with a thin line of drool descending from your chin. Blow up caravans.
Frankly, we need fantasies like that. The laydeez may have their fifty shades of grey, but the fellas need their fifty shades of rosso corsa (that’s Ferrari red, by the way).
But there are three problems with Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear, and it seems that those three problems are linked to each other.
The first problem is that the show is hugely successful. That may not sound like a problem, but it is a massive headache for the BBC right now. They know that they ought to sack Clarkson, but they really don’t want to lose the revenue that comes from the show.
The second problem is that the format is getting tired. It is not as funny as it used to be, with the same jokes being repeated over and over again. Man cannot live on cleavage alone, although some would quite like to try.
The third problem is that the producers and presenters don’t know when they are stepping over the line. There is a very good reason why a little bit of cleavage is a damn sight sexier than full frontal nudity. We need limits and boundaries so that our imagination can get to work filling in the gaps.
The answer is very simple. The BBC should give Jeremy Clarkson a one year sabbatical. One year away from Top Gear so that he can pursue his own projects. Richard Hammond, James May and a series of guest presenters can present the show for a year. Heck, we could even have “a star presenting a reasonably priced car show”. With cars in it, for a change.
That would give Jeremy a chance to rediscover his mojo. To learn how to be funny again, without the need for the over the top stuff. He is a much better writer than that.
And just imagine the fuss and excitement when he returns …
In the meantime, Top Gear will need a new writer. As it happens, I’ve got an answer for that one too. You see I live only a few miles away from Dunsfold where Top Gear is filmed.
Only saying …